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Bengals preseason Week 1 rookie report: The Auden Tate Show has arrived

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Billy Price and the rest of the rookie class played significant roles in the Bengals preseason opener.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The first preseason game is where we always learn who’s really behind whom and where players are truly playing as opposed to what the depth chart says. It’s also exciting to see the first-year players get their feet wet and play against other player besides their teammates in practice.

Eight of the Bengals’ 11 draft picks appeared in the preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, and each left an impression of where they are as players.

Did Not Play

Andrew Brown

Logan Woodside


Billy Price

First and foremost: No bad snaps. Just had to get that out of the way.

On the surface, the Bengals first-round pick had a solid first outing. He didn’t allow any pressures in pass protection and didn’t make any mental miscues. He looked comfortable above all else. But his day was not without some losses at the hands of the Bears interior defensive line.

I went over almost every play from the first-team offensive and defensive line here. These were the plays focused on Price:

Price had a tough matchup going against an underrated duo in Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman for first quarter, and both players used Price’s lack of length and beat him pretty handily. It’s a weakness that we’ve known about Price since he was drafted, and he’ll have to continue working on his timing and placement to compensate for it. He can keep his chin up after coming back from injury and not missing any time up to this point.

Jessie Bates

He didn’t make a lot of plays in training camp, but Bates was ready to go for his first piece of action. Coming in for George Iloka on the defense’s second series, Bates was alongside Shawn Williams and the rest of the first-team defense, and stayed there with Clayton Fejedelem and the second-team unit.

He finished with a couple of solo tackles from coming downhill in run defense, and even got a rep in the slot near the goal-line. Expect this usage going forward in the preseason.

Sam Hubbard

We saw a lot of Hubbard in the Bears backfield, but nearly every time he was there, he couldn’t finish the play. Hubbard was listed as Dunlap’s backup at left defensive end, but saw his first snaps on the right edge with the second-team. What was interesting was that it was Carl Lawson there in base before Hubbard, but it was only for a couple of plays. He was also behind Jordan Willis at nickel defensive tackle in the second-team, but later got opportunities at the position.

Hubbard looked a lot better as the game went on against the Bears third-string offensive line. He finished with two solo tackles and a tackle for loss late in the game.

Malik Jefferson

While wide receiver John Ross had the turbulent performance on offense, it was Jefferson who had it for the defense.

Listed as the backup WILL linebacker behind Jordan Evans, it was second-year player Brandon Bell who took reps there before Jefferson got onto the field. Jefferson started well, making a tackle close to the line of scrimmage, and taking away a wheel route and flat route from the Bears running backs.

But this horrible angle he took later on is the play that sticks out the most.

Aside from compromising the edge on that big run, Jefferson looked alright in the time he was out there. His reps are crucial with Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first four games, and he’ll only play more going forward.

Mark Walton

After taking reps as the fourth and sometimes fifth running back in training camp, Walton was listed as the third running back on the depth chart and was the third back out on the field behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

He lead all running backs in carries with seven, but only racked up 13 yards, as he didn’t get much room to run. He was also entrusted to pass block a couple times and was overmatched, something he wasn’t used to being in college. He was also the one running back who played and didn’t catch a pass.

Davontae Harris

Thursday officially marked Harris’ transition from going up against FCS-level competition to the best from the FBS-level. He survived, not thrived, in the time extended time he was on the field.

The fifth cornerback on the depth chart behind Dre Kirkpatrick in the second-team unit, Harris got plenty of exposure for most of the game. He was targeted a handful of times was flagged for pass interference on the Bears second-to-last drive of the game.

He allowed a few receptions but kept tight coverage on them, and lead the team in tackles with six. He also was used as a gunner on punt teams.

Darius Phillips

While Harris got onto the field with the defensive reserves immediately, Phillips ended up behind Josh Shaw at nickel cornerback, filling in behind the fourth-year veteran later on. His one miscue came from being flat footed playing a corner route that almost became a touchdown.

On special teams, Phillips ended up taking back 3 of the 4 kickoff returns of the game, averaging 22.7 yards per return, and fair caught a punt. He’s still in a position to push Erickson out of his spot as lead returner, and will likely continue to getting every opportunity to do so.

Auden Tate

Last but not least, there’s the human football vacuum.

As expected, Tate didn’t see action until the third unit was out there, aside from one play at the end of the first half where he was the target of a gaol-line fade. As soon as he was lined out wide late in the fourth quarter, the ball went his way.

Tate hauled in two catches for 41 yards on back-to-back plays on the Bengals second-to-last drive in the fourth quarter, and both were negated due to penalties, with one of them being offensive pass interference on him.

Two plays later, quarterback Jeff Driskel escaped a collapsing pocket on 2nd and 8 and lobbed another deep ball to Tate down the left sideline. And of course Tate brought it down.

Tate is too big and imposing for third-string cornerbacks to handle, and his performance definitely proved that. If the Bengals are serious about him making the roster (which they should be), they need to get him more reps at least with the second unit.

Undrafted notables

Trayvon Henderson

The undrafted safety out of Hawaii made an impressive tackle on a Bears punt return, but injured his ribs on the tackle. He did indeed return to the game.

Junior Joseph

The third-team MIKE linebacker behind Hardy Nickerson broke up a pass over the middle and allowed a seam route over his head against the Tyler Bray-led Bears offense, but looked serviceable in run defense.